Suspect in Missing Mississippi Family Case Leads Investigators to Bodies

Suspect Timothy Burns showed authorities where the family's bodies were.

ByAlexis Shaw
November 05, 2013, 10:42 AM

Nov. 5, 2013— -- A Jackson, Miss., man has been arrested in the deaths of a Brandon, Miss., mother, her young son and her husband. The family had vanished without a trace after a car wreck over the weekend.

The bodies of Atira Hill, 30, her 7-year-old son, Jaidon, and her husband, Laterry Smith, 34, were found this morning, a relative told

Timothy Lydell Burns, 42, of Jackson, Miss., was arrested today, Copiah County Sheriff Harold Jones told ABC's Jackson, Miss., affiliate WAPT-TV.

The family members had last been seen driving in their car on Friday, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said in a statement.

Their abandoned, smoldering, tan Dodge SUV was found upside down in a ditch in Hermanville, Miss., Saturday morning, Copiah County Sheriff Harold Jones told Monday, but the family had not been seen or heard from since Friday.

Burns led investigators to an old home near the rural area where the family's overturned car had been found. Inside the home, law enforcement officials found the bodies of the three family members, who had all been shot, WAPT-TV reported.

It is unclear if there is a connection between Burns and the family.

Copiah County Coroner Ellis Stuart told that the family's bodies were sent to the Mississippi State Medical Examiner's Office in Jackson, where an autopsy will take place this afternoon.

Stuart confirmed the bodies appeared to have gunshot wounds, but declined to say where the mother, her son and her husband had been shot.

Mississippi Family Vanishes After Car Wreck: 'We Have No Idea Where These People Are'

Penny King, who is a relative of Atira Hill, told this morning that the family was found dead but that she didn't "know all the particulars yet."

Officer Colendula Green, a spokeswoman for the Jackson Police Department, told that three bodies were found early this morning but declined to comment further.

On Monday afternoon, investigators were seen collecting items from a Dumpster at a Shell gas station in Jackson, Miss., that were linked to the family, reported ABC's Jackson affiliate WAPT-TV.

Among the items found were bloody clothes and Hill's ID badge from her job at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, WAPT-TV reported.

A hospital spokesman had confirmed earlier to ABC News that an Atira Hill-Smith worked at the hospital but had not shown up for work on Monday.

King said she last spoke with Hill a week ago but knew of a "strange" conversation that Hill had with her mother.

"Atira told her mother on Friday that she was going out of town and something had just come up," King said. "She said that they were going to see some of Laterry's people about some business."

King said she did not know what Smith did professionally, adding the couple had only been married a few months and Smith "did not come around much."

King described Hill as a "very quiet" person whose son, Jaidon, "was her life."

King became tearful when speaking about the 7-year-old, whom she described as an "energetic, all-American boy.

"He's full of energy and full of life. He worked in the church," she said as she choked back tears. "He just didn't deserve this at all."

ABC News' calls to the Copiah County Sheriff's Department were not immediately returned.

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